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  1. #51
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    It is suspicious ... but not so much because of the 7 minutes

    There are 2 definite tiers ... the likes of Nibali, Contador, Froome etc, and the JC Peraud / Pinot / TJVG and the like. The top tier riders are genuinely 7-10 minutes better than the 2nd tier guys so I dont have an issue with the time gaps by Paris.

    The issue for me is the fact that Nibali was in such ordinary shape just a month ago at the Dauphine. The Dauphine/Tour de Suisse are the traditional lead up races to the Tour. Riders dont have to actually win in those .. you dont want to peak too soon - but you need to be in good shape by then. Its like being well out of from just before the olympics ...

    At the Dauphine, Froome Contador and Nibali where all there. Froome and Contador were having their own little ding-dong battle, and Nibali was well back, not over-the-top bad but not in the shape you would expect - and he hadnt had the best season till then so it was surprising ... Contador was in the lead, but he had a really crappy team at the race so was struggling to control the break .... and a lot of contenders made it into a breakaway.

    Froome crashed and then refused to allow his team to chase as he didnt think he could win. Contador had no team mates left and refused to chase himself and let Froome win ... so they had this little standoff ... which allowed the next contenders in to go ahead and win the race.

    It was perfect for Nibali. In any kind of shape at all he should have won in a landslide. But he didnt. He couldnt even follow the 2nd tier guys .....

    How does he go from that form, to dropping out and out climbers?


    aside from that - there are others in the race who are more suss than Nibali, so ...

  2. #52
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    but now we have the 'end of tour blues'

    you get used to having a bike race every night ... and now there isnt

    But - I will convert you all to year-round cycling yet


    So - next Saturday night is the Classica San Sebastian - a 1 day race in Spain which is really fun. A few hills near the end makes it a good race. Phil Gilbert will battle it off against Peter Sagan and a few other classics-type riders for the win.

    Tour of Poland is on from Sunday ... but its boring and usually full of 2nd tier riders. I dont usually bother.

    Eneco Tour though can be really fun. Starts 11/8 (for a week) and is in the Benelux (Belgium, Netherlands, Luxemburg). The last few years they have had a really good course, with a hilly stage, and a cobbled-climb stage ... worth watching

    There are 2 other 1 day races (GP Plouay and Vattenfall) ... but both are sprinters races and not usually that exciting.
    then on 23/8 the Vuelta a Espana starts (another 3 weeks )

    Problem with the Vuelta though is it is on about 2 hrs later than the Tour started each night - so not really good timing ....

    Still - this year, the world championships (which are at the end of September) are fairly hilly, so many of the GC riders are still riding .... and a lot of the classics guys are aiming for the Worlds as well .. and everyone uses the Vuelta to prepare - so it makes it a pretty fun race.

    the 12/9 + 14/9 are the Canadian classics (GP Quebec and GP Montreal) and they are fun races to watch too.

    Then the Worlds. (they go for a week culminating with the world championship road race on the last Sunday in Sept. will be great to watch - in Spain this year)

    last race (that is worth watching) is Giro di Lombardia - the last of the classics - and is one of the 5 most prestigious classics which are known as the Monuments. Its a top class race through the most georgeous lakes district of northern Italy ... really lovely.

    tour of Beijing is on after that - and it is a dead boring race with nothing exciting ever .... but its on at a good time of the day if you are bored and there is nothing else on.

  3. #53
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    Pencilling those dates in....

    One of the races I found funny to watch was the Tour of Qatar - just desert & road - so different from green landscapes, villages etc from the European tours.

    What channel do you watch these on? Eurosport?

  4. #54
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    yep Eurosport (if you have foxtel)

    If you dont, most of these races are ******ed online ...

    www.cyclingfans.com have links to ******s for every race (and great info/profiles etc)

    http://www.steephill.tv/ also has links to live ******s too ... and highlights videos too.

    SBS ******s the major races (the Grand Tours, the monuments and the World Champs usually) - and their ****** is always great


    And yes - Quatar is always fun. This year they had the Tour of Dubai (I think it was Dubai) which was kinda funny - they paid a bucketload of money for some major stars to come ... but at that point in the season no one wants to do anything much.

    Its a pity they dont telecast the Tour of Oman as that always sounds amazing. They have a lot of wind accross the desert so the races are really fun, and the guys aiming for the classics races take them seriously.


    the best races are the spring classics (spring in Europe) .. so March-April. Next year I will do some stuff on them to watch the cobbled classics as they are awesome to watch.

  5. #55
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    so ....

    anyone been watching the Eneco Tour?

    Flat stage so far .. and TT tonight ... but the weekends stages are fun.

    These areas of Belgium and the Netherlands have some very prestigious one-day races .. and they have made these stages in sections of those races.

    Stage 5 (Friday night) is a mini Tour of Flanders - has cobblestoned sections - some on short but very steep hills. (really fun, specially if its raining)

    Stage 6 is a mini Liege Bastogne Liege - has a fair few longer hills

    Stage 7 is a mini Amstel Gold Race - has LOTS and LOTS of short sharp hills.


    If you want to watch fun bike racing ... those stages will be the ones.

  6. #56
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    Right - so after the short time trial ... it looks like this

    1 - Lars Boom will be good tonight, but will lose time tomorrow and Sunday)
    2 - Tom Dumoulin +4" - will be good tonight, but may struggle a little on Sunday*
    3 - M Quinziato +4" - unless he gets in a break he wont win GC
    4 - A Grivko +7" - contender for the overall
    5 - Z Stybar +9" - crashed - is out **
    6 - G Thomas +14" - contender for the overall
    7 - S VanMarcke +17" - will go well tonight, struggle on the hills tomorrow and Sunday
    8 - N Terpstra +18" - will go well tonight, struggle on the hills tomorrow and Sunday
    9 - K Koren +19" - no idea about him really, but has no history of winning these classics
    10 - J Keukelaire +21" - will be ok tonight, struggle on the hills tomorrow and Sunday
    11 - P Gilbert +21" - contender to win overall but will need to be extra good tomorrow and Sunday ***
    12 - F Cancellara +24" - is capable but needs to smash it tonight to be in with a shot


    * Dumoulin - crashed on stage 2 and used the cars to get back in. Should consider himself incredibly lucky to be still in it as he should have had a major time penalty for drafting

    ** Stybar - crashed very heavily in the last 200m last night. major head first over the handlebars ... concussion, broken jaw, all kinds of bad stuff. really hope he is ok

    *** Gilbert - my favourite rider He is giving 17 seconds to Dumoulin, 14 to Grivko and 7 to Thomas ... but he is capable on the stages that are left to get that back easily enough if he has the form. (not sure that he has the form though, so will see)

    Others who may have a chance if they get a bit of luck
    - S Langeveld (+29)
    - I Gutierrez (+34")
    - G Van Avermaat (+34")

    pretty much short of a disaster or miracle, one of these guys should win (though you never know).

    Anyway - the next 3 days are the ones to watch !!!! should be great racing.

  7. #57
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    well last night was pretty fun. gotta love the Muur ...

    tonight is lots of climbing - the likes of Gilbert and Van Avermaat and Thomas will do better than Van Marcke or Dumoulin.

    Grivko could be an interesting one.


 

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